#Techtrends: Conversation as an interface

Digital first was what we heard for a long time. Then we went on to the phase of mobile first. Are we now moving into the conversation first era?

On the one hand, we live in a period of time where visual storytelling rules. YouTube, Instagram, Facebook video, you know the lot. But at the same time, we live in a world where text rules. We live in WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, Slack and other communication apps. More and more we see the interface as we know it, the website, the app, disappearing into the background, we see the conversation becoming the interface to information. Read all about it.

People are used to the Q&A form of communication apps. They want a conversation. With people, with brands, with organisations. Or more precise: with people working at organisations. That's why so many organisations now have a chat option at their website.

And that is good of course. It is what people expect. They want to be able to ask a question if they have one. But there is a but. As an organisation, it takes time and money to be permanently available for your audience. That's where automation comes in. How can you structure your data in a way that you can automate an important part of the conversations?

Every company has frequently asked questions. So every company can put the answers to those questions in a database. And thanks to Natural Language Processing computers get better and better in understanding the words we say and the texts we type. So use automation for most of the conversations and step in as a human when needed.

So what does that mean for a club?

For starters start experimenting.

  • Why not just start with an on-site trial. What happens when you add a chat option to your site? Intercom makes that really easy. Test if your customers want the conversation.
  • Why not find out what your users want on Facebook? Pop is a Dutch company that builds on top of Facebook Messenger. Pop facilitates direct contact with fans. A lot of artists use it succesfuly to send out news updates, concert announcements and release informations. As a club you can easily test how this works for your audience. Do people want it? What is the impact on ticket sales?

After having tested those two options you can decide on future actions. Do you want to keep on using Intercom and Pop? Do you want more automation?

In the last case, make sure that you put the basics of your information in a structured database. Your site can be that database, but there are numerous other options.

Make it easy for the computer to come up with answers to questions like:

  • Who is playing today?
  • When is X playing?
  • What time does today's gig start?
  • When is the next hip-hop concert?
  • What does a ticket for concert Y cost?
  • Etcetera

Most of them are basic questions, so that must be doable.

And after that, look for a service or a company that can help you further with that. For example, take a look at this list Entrepreneur.com made.

So that's all?

Well, not really. There is another form of conversational interfaces that are becoming more important. All big tech companies have software or machines that we can talk to. Apple has Siri, Google has OK Google, Amazon has Echo, Microsoft has Cortana. Because of that it's even more important to structure your data in a way that an external computer understands.

You should get ready for the question: "Alexa, are there tickets left for tonights Underworld concert?"

Read the whole series of #techtrends

Mihai Surdu